Good morning, world. I listen to the ravens in the woods, opening my window for the fresh cool air, admiring the rich greens growing outback. I am back from an Appleseed shoot at Blue Lake Range in Stevenson, Washington. Nice group of ten shooters, one father observing and encouraging his son. One woman, two eleven year old boys, seven men of various ages and marksmanship levels. One of them had made a Rifleman score before and brought friends. He was also an EMT, so we were covered.
I had driven three and a portion of one hours to be the shoot boss, the fellow in charge of making it happen. Actually, Kenjo had mentioned the shoot had no shoot boss signed up, so I had offered to wear that hat - it does still fit my head. Janer had signed up to learn and share more and get her progress check for IIT3, which she earned. TheSquirrelPatrol had forgotten to sign up, but since Kenjo put out another blanket email, his memory was jogged and he said to include him with the COI. So we had a great ratio for the twelve expected shooters. Two became no shows and we taught ten. The range can hold a few more but the brass would be bouncing back at the shooter instead of landing on their neighbor's bare skin.
I had written the course of instruction (COI) assigning instructors and demonstrators for the first day, I intended to get the Redcoat target and two sighting square targets done before lunch - there is so much to teach that sometimes shooting is secondary. But we got the instruction out, fired fifty rounds on the two sighting squares and tightened up most of the groups. The boys had challenges, one shooting a single shot Rascal rifle - his size but the rear sight was off and he never hit paper. He couldn't close his right eye either. I tested his rifle, found it hitting six inches high, knocked the rear sight down, and had duct tape covering his right eye protection (safety glasses). He hits! Often learning marksmanship is conquering one problem at a time. The other boy had a very heavy adult size 10/22, heavy from the bull barrel and the scope. He was also smaller than the normal rifleman, he will grow into it, in about four or five years. His father was thinking of getting him one for his current size soon. Still, he took to shooting excellent groups and in the rifleman's cadence so he will do fine when he is big enough to carry the weight.
Lunch in the shade, listening to the pre-1775 history, the First Strike of the Match and followed by the Second Strike of the Match. We know too much to tell it all, I had six Revolutionary War books with me, and I learned long ago that trying to stick every thing in your presentation isn't what the shooters need, what they need is enough to decide to find out more on their own. Let them connect the dots and explore. I mentioned Lexington was a village of seven hundred people and four hundred cows - no one asked how I knew.
After lunch I used an AQT target for Ball and Dummy and then teaching the positions and steady hold factors, NPOA, and Rifleman's cadence. Not recorded for score, but to verify they were picking up the instruction. Then we fired and recorded two more AQTs at speed. Interesting results. We then had the Third Strike of the Match and shot the final Redcoat of the day, improved so much from the morning one. Gave them a short benediction and the Seventh Step and cleaned up the range sending them to hot showers, food, lots of liquid and some solid sleep. Yes, I gave them a packet of homework to read and memorize before morning, but I know they would look at it later.
The instructors gathered and talked about the day, the COI, the good things the bad things the way to improve, and gave out assignments for Sunday instruction. I stayed and camped on the range, talking to one father, who was camping there, too. He knew about the Iceland Solution. Interesting conversation but I needed water and sleep.
I did get a beautiful view of the Big Dipper and the Milky Way, the night sky over the Columbia River was crystal clear and only tall trees limited the horizon.
Second Day, Redcoat, review, one sighting square target to confirm groups and sights, then two AQTs before lunch, Dangerous Old Men stories at lunch. I held the line boss while they were told. The lunch line boss is a lonely quiet time. Still it demonstrates to me that those fine rifles don't put holes in paper without a shooter attached. In the afternoon, we would shoot a known distance demonstration by moving the targets back to the hundred yard line. Showing the bullet drop from the 22LR and the rise from the center fire .223s, and the spread of the Minutes of Angle as the distance grows. We would also use the drop or rise to adjust the shooter's aiming point, doing the Rifleman's Dance. Moving back to the twenty-five meter line we fired one Peppermint drill for bursting the candy, some could and some couldn't. There were four more AQTs, and a Redcoat target.
Although the day was sunny and bright, the pace and heat started to take its toll and I could wrap the shoot up about an hour early. We honored our repeat Rifleman, and had a baptism for our new Rifleman, Gordon, who scored exactly 210 points We had one Rifleman, with three Appleseeds under his belt, volunteer to become an Instructor in Training (IIT) and gave Junior Patriot patches to the two young boys for doing so much with the adults, no complaints nor problems. One had all the math in public stuff down when I had given the IMC the day before. He was rocking.
Overall, I would do it again. And likely will, although the drive is long it reminds me of the early Appleseeds, that were smaller, friendly groups, more coaching than preaching. A great weekend for me, hope yours was, too.